... to ask whether you would find four adult siblings, all childless, unusual?

(101 Posts)
Peevish Tue 14-May-13 10:08:29

Would you find it worthy of remark to come across a family of four siblings, aged between 33 and 40, who are all childless by choice?

This is a moot point now, as I have a one year old these days, born just before I turned 40, but I had several people remark on our collective childlessness as strange before I had him. Not that individuals choose not to have children, but that an entire sibling group would choose not to, despite being financially stable, fertile, in relationships etc. It had never occurred to me as odd, but various remarks from people who did not know my siblings, and so were thinking about the situation in the abstract, got me thinking about whether there was something about our growing up that turned us all off the idea of being parents.

Anyway, my question is whether you would (a) find it unusual enough to remark on it and (b) assume there was a common cause, conscious or unconscious, for the decision? Also, those of you who don't have children (I know there are some on here), do your siblings have children?

LemonBreeland Tue 14-May-13 10:09:51

I would think it was unusual, but wouldn't be rude enough to comment on it.

HeathRobinson Tue 14-May-13 10:11:26

I might think it interesting but would choose not to remark on it.

stepawayfromthescreen Tue 14-May-13 10:13:06

I wouldn't say a thing, but would privately assume that there was something in your upbringing which had put you all off having children.

Numberlock Tue 14-May-13 10:14:04

I would think it was unusual in the sense of uncommon based on the 'average' situation (ie not unusual as in strange/odd).

I also wouldn't comment on it unless one of the 4 siblings pointed it out to me in which case I would just "Oh right".

I presume it bothers your siblings and they have encountered rude comments over the years?

I would assume there was a known genetic issue and you'd all decided not to risk it as is the case in several extended families I know.

I wouldn't comment though.

MsVestibule Tue 14-May-13 10:16:15

Yes, I would find it surprising enough to remark on it if I knew it was out of choice rather than infertility (and probably would be rude enough to comment on it wink), but in more of an interested "statistically, it's unusual for all 4 siblings to choose not to have children", rather than "good grief, how awful was your childhood that you've all chosen to not reproduce?".

I wouldn't assume it was a collective decision, conscious or otherwise. Just out of interest, what level of academic achievement did you all achieve?

OhLori Tue 14-May-13 10:17:04

Possibly you were just intelligent, happy people, with your own good reasons for not wanting to bring children into this world, be they conscious or unconscious.

melika Tue 14-May-13 10:18:19

No I know a few families whose kids did not produce. I think coming from a catholic upbringing, where in the 60s and 70s they were all massive families, maybe that experience put them off. I've noticed no one I know has had 8 kids!! Can you blame them.

Also being childless myself at that age, I wouldn't even have noticed! DB didn't have children either until he was 35. (He's younger than me.)

Are/were you all deliberately not being parents as in planning never to have children, or just getting on and doing your own thing (travelling and holidays etc), and so children just never crossed you mind either way?

For me it was the latter.

mrsbabookaloo Tue 14-May-13 10:20:44

I am the third of 4 siblings aged 33-44 and I am the only one to have children. It is unusual, definitely, so rather than other people commenting on it, I have usually pre-empted them by commenting on it myself!

It's unusual, but not freakishly so, and not so much now people leave it longer before settling down. They all have their own reasons/situations for not having children; it's not some sinister thing that afflicts the family as a whole.

I think the thing that we possibly all have in common is that we are too cautious to get pg by accident, and there would probably be a lot more people without children if people only had planned babies! I don't mean that in a judgy way - of course people are usually thrilled with their children even if not planned - I just mean statistically iykwim.

DIYapprentice Tue 14-May-13 10:20:45

I would think it was due to something from childhood, but would only comment if I knew you very well.

I come from a large family, as does my DH. The though of having lots of DC fills me with horror. Still don't talk to half my siblings - who have all, incidentally, only had 2 or 3 DC as well.

Peevish Tue 14-May-13 10:20:50

I don't know whether it bothers them, tbh, though I know my younger sister is enormously irritated by attitudes she encounters as a 35 year old not planning to reproduce - but that is individual irritation, if you see what I mean. Not anything involving at the four of us, before I had DS.

I do wonder myself, but while I know my own reasons for not planning to have children for so long, it's hard to say about the others, as we are not particularly close, and widely separated by geography. Our upbringing was not wildly happy, but neither was it abusive or awful.

I'd think it was unusual enough for me to consider privately what a common cause might be. It's not the sort of thing I'd actually remark on though.

IfNotNowThenWhen Tue 14-May-13 10:21:48

I have thought about this. I know 3 seperate sibling groups (of 2 's) who have not had children.
Not all of them through choice exactly, more through not finding stable relationships.
I think there are a LOT of people in their 30's who, for some reason, sort of disconnected with the whole idea though.
I know so many people that age who family lives were a bit chaotic. Maybe having baby boomer parents put them off!
(The whole finding yourself thing in the 70's was pretty hard on the kids).
I do notice that 20 somethings seem a lot more conservative in general, and want to get married, take their husbands name, have kids etc.
We are a bit of a lost generation I think.
-JUST my musings btw!

emsyj Tue 14-May-13 10:22:22

I have 2 children but my DSis (43) and DBro (45) are both childless. My DSis has been in a long-distance relationship for 11 years (both happy with the situation) and DBro was single for a long time following a long relationship with a woman he met at university, but is now coupled up again (although not living together).

I think my family is quite unusual that my 2 siblings have never married, cohabited or had children...

notsoyoniface Tue 14-May-13 10:25:59

I have three siblings we are aged between 27 and 38 and none of us have children. I would not think of it as odd until I read this thread. Three of us are in relationships/married. There are no genetic reasons, it just hasn't happened yet...

Bosgrove Tue 14-May-13 10:26:15

I know a family of 4 adult children, the youngest being 40. Until a couple of years ago they were all childless, but not all through choice. One of them has now adopted a baby but it has been a long journey for them. I wouldn't judge (at least I would say anything to them), no one knows what is going on in other people lives and I wouldn't want to put my foot in it.

Peevish Tue 14-May-13 10:30:04

Sorry, cross-posted with lots of interesting responses!

To answer questions, yes, we are all fairly academic. I have a doctorate and all the others have MAs. And melika, that is an interesting point. We are Irish and from a relatively devout Catholic background, though none of us practises as an adult. The point about cautiousness is also food for thought...

Baroness, my DP and I were definitely planning not to have children, and very much focused on career, travel, living in a tiny central London flat and having fun. My two sisters are quite militantly child-free. My brother am not so sure about.

OhLori, I hear you, that was my own thought, tbh. It was other people hinting at there being some sad or sinister collective cause that set me thinking.

oohaveabanana Tue 14-May-13 10:32:31

Interesting.
I'm one of four children and the only one with kids (although I'm the eldest, so it's less surprising ... yet).

Both my mum, and dh's parents are one of 4. In those 12 siblings, only 3 have children (ie my parents, and two others).

In one family, that's been circumstance. In one, health issues, and in one, lack on desire for children from the sibs.

Imo, if you're one of four, you have a clearer idea of what having children can mean (ito level of hard work, amount of sacrifice, for want of a better word) - it certainly meant I wanted to wait, and be really ready for children, & I know at least one of my sibs feels the same.

Family friends, 4 kids aged 43 - 55.
-Oldest to my knowledge never wanted kids (but found out she had miscarriages years ago so who knows?)
- Second adopted 3 children
- third (only son) married in his late 40's to a woman who already has DC and Grandchildren
- Youngest has tried for years but has had cervical cancer, cysts etc.Shame really - she used to baby sit me when I was a kid and I know its hard for her to see me with my DC.

Hullygully Tue 14-May-13 10:44:33

No, but then I know a family of seven siblings, none of whom have reproduced.

NoelHeadbands Tue 14-May-13 10:50:26

I know of three siblings (late 50's and 60's) none of whom had any children. I mused on it privately but didn't comment on it.

One of them is now a very wonderful step father and step grandfather

fluffyraggies Tue 14-May-13 10:54:38

I would find it unusual but wouldn't comment unless one of you was a good friend smile

My oldest friend (from primary school) is youngest of 3. None of them have had children. Different circs. for each one.

Sad for their mum, i always think, as she is perfect 'granny' material. Always a traditional SAHM who's life always revolved around her kids.

TwinTum Tue 14-May-13 10:54:39

I would be quite curious to know what your parents make of it (although would not ask them if i knew them), both from the no grandchildren perspective and from the perspective of wondering what they had done "wrong" (not that I think it is wrong). Have you ever discussed it with them?

LokiTheCynicalCat Tue 14-May-13 11:03:48

My parents have friends in their 50s with six adult children (well, ages 19-30ish I think).

No partners, no children. And they all live at home. This is in Ireland, too.

KittensoftPuppydog Tue 14-May-13 11:04:42

I come from a large family, have no kids through choice, but there are lots of nephews and nieces on both sides to satisfy grandparents.
Nobody says anything about it to me.sometimes wish they would as I think that the assumption is that I'm 'barren'. No, just wanted to do other things with my life.

FayeKorgasm Tue 14-May-13 11:04:47

My DH doesn't have children, though he is an amazing SD to my son - they are good friends,supported him financially through university, bought him a car and pays for it to be run etc etc - his brother doesnt have children, or been married and neither has my sister and only sibling.

We also have a number of friends who are happily married in their 40's and don't have children. They have - in my eyes at least- happy fulfilled lives. The only person who I think really isn't happy with their situation is my DSis. She hasn't married or had children and I do believe this is a sadness for her. She hasn't said anything, she doesn't talk about feelings, but I know her v well. sad

Bowlersarm Tue 14-May-13 11:07:36

I think I would think it a little strange, if I thought about it at all.

I would think it was a shame for your parents after having four children themselves, that they didn't go on to have grandchildren.

PeppermintPasty Tue 14-May-13 11:08:36

It's interesting isn't it? I wonder if your statement that your upbringing was not wildly happy holds the key? My sister had my nephew when she was 35, some 15 years ago. My DBro, who I think would make a great dad, has never had children (and is married).

I had an unplanned pregnancy which happily resulted in my now 6yo, and I followed that up with his DSis 3 yrs ago.

However, I had always thought, up until the moment I found out I was pregnant, that I would never have children. My mother is (I know now), a narcissist and I think this played a large part in our collective failure/lateness in having children, more than things like not finding the right person etc.

For example, my mother was very very controlling when we were young, and we followed her "script". In my case, I always remember her telling people that PP would "not have children, oh no she's never wanted them" etc. I recall this even from fairly young.

I think it had an effect on me. I wonder whether, if my DSis wasn't still under the grip of my mother, she would in fact have had more.

My mother put the phone down on me when I rang her to tell her I was pregnant, such was the strength of her belief that I was not to have children.

Just musing on it really.

PeppermintPasty Tue 14-May-13 11:09:52

btw, I read that back-I don't mean "failure" as in we failed! I mean it as a statement of fact.

quesadilla Tue 14-May-13 11:14:37

Statistically speaking its unusual but that doesnt mean its down ti anything depressing or unusual. I would not dream of commenting on it though. One of my pet hates when I was childless was people who thought it was ok to ask me why I hadn't had children. There is a host of reasons people may not have reproduced from the banal to the logistical to highly sensitive medical or psychiatric ones. I find it quite astonishing that people (apart from close and trusted friends) deem it appropriate to wade into what is clearly such a minefield.

diddl Tue 14-May-13 11:26:04

I would think it odd that all four siblings didn't want children-doubt I would ask about it-but would probably assume bad childhood tbh.

Peevish Tue 14-May-13 11:41:09

Quesadilla, I agree entirely, but in my experience people who might not comment on an individual not having children feel it's ok to comment when they see it as 'collective' and therefore weird...

To those who have asked about my parents, it is hard to know how they have felt. Both were badly parented themselves, both grew up the eldest of very poor families, and both lost one parent very young - as adults, both are largely without friends, and are socially awkward, very afraid of new things. Both settled for the minimum offered them in their lives ("that was just the way things were back then" is a big refrain with them both) and seemed prepared to do the same for us, and were baffled and I think slightly embarrassed by our relative academic successes.

I think they may think that people who go to university don't have children, or something, as our cousins of a similar age left school, married and started families immediately. They would certainly have much preferred us to lead working-class lives locally, of the kind they understood, marrying and having families and not leaving our home town, than anything any of us has done. I have sometimes felt that nothing we did really counted for them because it didn't involve big white weddings and lots of babies.

Gosh, that obviously hit a nerve. Honestly, I love them dearly, and wish we didn't live in different countries. But today am v frustrated, as have been begging them to come and visit since early march, when I visited them. Short flight, we would pay, lots of room in our house and a baby grandson they haven't seen in three months, but they keep putting it off!

squeaver Tue 14-May-13 11:44:05

I would think it unusual but not weird.

It is, however, the sort of thing my mother would go on and on and on about.

slug Tue 14-May-13 12:09:12

My BF is one of 4 sisters, all childless. The eldest has just been diagnosed with a particularly nasty genetic disease. Amongst the genetic testing that is now going on in the family is the general relief that the sisters don't have any children to have (potentially) passed the disease onto.

wineoclocktimeyet Tue 14-May-13 12:30:03

I think I would wonder (but never presume to ask).

I might think that 1 or more could be gay (not that that precludes having children of course)

halcyondays Tue 14-May-13 12:36:20

i suppose statistically it would be unusual but I wouldn't remark about as it can be a sensitive subject.

aldiwhore Tue 14-May-13 12:39:25

Unusual but nothing 'wrong' with it.

My Godfather has 2 siblings. They are all aged between 60-70 now and all childless. They have a LOT of Godchildren though, are collectively wonderful 'adults of import' to many children, they just never got round to having their own, or rather, chose not to get round to having their own.

The parent part of me sometimes thinks it's a 'shame' because they would all have made such wonderful parents, the God-daughter in me thinks that they've led more a 'life' and I'm glad they didn't have their own... my Godfather is someone I adore, he's my own personal Willy Wonka (that does sound odd lol) and that would have been less had he been 'distracted' by his own brood!

YABU to listen too closely to people who think it in any way 'weird', YABU to think that unusual has sinister conitations (sp), You and your siblings ANBU to not have your ambitions lie in procreation, and your sisters certainly ANBU to actively choose no children at all (and your brother is NBU to remain unknowable).

I would assume they had had crap childhoods or poor sibling relationships if all 4 had chosen to be childless. I wouldn't dream of commenting though, as you never know if people have chosen not to have kids or are unable.

Decoy Tue 14-May-13 12:44:34

No, I wouldn't think anything of it. Statistically there will always be some groups where everyone becomes a parent, and some where no-one does. How unpleasant of people to make assumptions that something negative must be the cause!

Loa Tue 14-May-13 12:54:19

33 -40 - age range.

No I wouldn't think it that odd but then I know a fair few older mothers - older than 40 - and also several GP - my own parents included - who went from no grandchildren over a few years to 3,4 and 5 GC - all coming at once.

If it was late 40 -50s then I'd assume DC weren't on way and then think it was odd - and assume either upbring or genetics but probably wouldn't comment as it would be a bit rude.

Decoy Tue 14-May-13 13:12:03

Why would people have to make any assumptions? Why do people have to try to imagine a "reason" that isn't there, instead of admitting to themselves that they will never know?

Loa Tue 14-May-13 13:26:18

After having a fact pointed out to me - or realising a fact I automatically and without malicious or real conscious thought try and make 'sense' of that fact.

Oh look that tree red not green - hmm must be something to do with chloroform.

Can't or didn't want - usual reasons not to have DC probably apply- on to next thing.

Peevish Tue 14-May-13 13:35:05

Decoy, I think that's precisely what is at issue. Most averagely thoughtful people are aware that sometimes people who want children aren't able to have them, but they think that an entire sibling group not having them rules out infertility, and thus feel able to comment/ speculate and wonder, because it's perceived to be a choice.

And you can see yourself that some people on this thread would think, even if they didn't say, that such a choice suggested a bad childhood -- they may even be right. I was interested people thought that. Though lots of people with appalling childhoods of abuse and neglect have children, too.

I am certainly parenting my own baby very differently to my own upbringing, though.

Peevish Tue 14-May-13 13:37:37

Honestly, it's not something I think about often, I should say. I think I got started today because I was so frustrated with my parents for not apparently wanting to see their only grandson enough to book a cheapie flight, when I have been asking them to come for months...

gindrinker Tue 14-May-13 13:43:33

My whole generation is childless. There are 7 (siblings/cousins etc) aged between 28-40.
None of us have had children.
All been to university, most married or cohabiting.

Phineyj Tue 14-May-13 13:54:40

I don't think it's that unusual, no - the stats for our (your) generation currently are that 25% of women will remain childless, and that seems likely to increase because of the high cost of living, women being more invested in careers, difficulty of having children later etc. So if you combine those trends with one or two siblings not wanting DC or not wanting them if not partnered, I don't think it's that unusual. But it depends hugely on the circles you move in.

I only really noticed how many friends and acquaintances were childless/free when we spent a long time ttc. It cheered me up to think there were many other options out there.

As regards your parents visiting, given what you've said about their timidity, is it possible the idea of a change to routine, especially one involving flying, makes them very nervous?

ComposHat Tue 14-May-13 14:55:47

I didn't have the jolliest of childhoods and as much as I love children, this certaily puts me off or think twice. I worry that I'd make them unhappy or I wouldn't be a good enough parent. My sister is slso childless too, but we've never really discussed the issue.

I wonder if my parents wonder why they are the only one amongst their social circle who arent grandparents yet.

QueenStromba Tue 14-May-13 18:54:05

My sister and I are both childfree and intend to stay that way. I've been sterilised and she would be if she didn't live in Ireland where it's very difficult to get it done.

We had a pretty crappy childhood. My parents were divorced and my mum didn't cope well. I think not having happy childhood memories probably makes it hard to see what the point of having kids is. I'm also a realist who needs about 9 hours sleep a night - a week of 8 hours sleep a night will have me napping most of Saturday.

I also think we might be missing the maternal gene. My maternal grandmother once said that she wouldn't have had kids if she was my age today.

RedToothBrush Tue 14-May-13 19:33:49

I actually don't think its unusual at all.

Not when you consider that the AVERAGE age for starting a family is now 30. And within certain social demographics the average is considerably higher - the group that springs most to mind is educated affluent middle class white women.

This means families with 4 siblings not having children in the age range 33 - 40 wouldn't be that striking statistically, as they are more likely than not to be in the same social demographic and much more likely to not start a family (if they are going to) until their late 30s if they are women and perhaps older if they are male.

Also, apparently the statistics now show that about 1 in 5 women aged 45 are now childless. Again, this is likely to perhaps not be evenly split across social demographics.

So the chances are sibling are more likely to behave in a similar way... and if one sibling doesn't have children, perhaps you really shouldn't be surprised if the others follow suit.

LessMissAbs Tue 14-May-13 19:38:19

I wouldn't notice. I'd honestly find it more odd that someone else had noticed. My DH is studying medicine, and he says that "elderly primagravida" are almost the norm in the maternity ward he has been in.

And in the past, it wasn't that unusual - weren't the Brontes all childless? But plenty of other examples.

expatinscotland Tue 14-May-13 19:41:44

No, I wouldn't find it unusual. My mate is one of three children and none of them has biological children and have been sterilised. One of her two brothers has two SC and he's happy with that. My mate has never been married, either, or lived with anyone, and doesn't care to. Ever.

BigBlockSingsong Tue 14-May-13 19:44:20

My DM is the youngest of a few and is the only one with kids.

It is remarked upon by some.

Jan49 Tue 14-May-13 19:54:45

I would never comment even if I noticed. I think it depends on their ages. If they were all aged 50+ and childless then I might think there could be a reason, perhaps one that affected them all. But as they are 33-40 I'd assume that some of them might have children in the future.

If someone says they don't want to or don't plan to have children, I wouldn't ask any questions but I'd think there might be other reasons that they don't choose to share. It's none of my business.

Hulababy Tue 14-May-13 19:57:21

I would think it unusual but I would never comment to them about it.

HollyBerryBush Tue 14-May-13 19:58:24

Not really, I've come across it in my family tree, 6 siblings, all married and none of them had any offspring. No idea why, no genetic defects.

I worked with a bloke who was No2 of 4, two brothers, two sisters, he died in a tragic accident in his late 30's, and his sister has finally got married in her 50's. TBH the vibe I got from all four of them was that they were all completely asexual. I don't know if it was their upbringing, very very monied people, privately educated abroad at boarding school from a young age. Maybe that had something to do with it.

Callycat Tue 14-May-13 21:24:16

Neither me nor my siblings have any children. I have not asked my siblings why they don't; I just never felt the urge to have any, so didn't.

Like QueenStromba we had a pretty crap time as kids, though - our parents did that "stay together for the sake of the children" thing, which I have no doubt was well intended, but it didn't make for a happy home life.

TheSpreadsheet Tue 14-May-13 21:30:37

I have children, but my two siblings don't, by choice and for different reasons, and both have been in very long term relationships and are financially stable. So I wouldn't think anything really. In fact, thinking about it, it's more my norm so when I know sibling sets who all have multiple children I find that a little odd!

Scruffey Tue 14-May-13 21:34:20

I would think it was slightly unusual but would not consider saying it to any of the siblings in question! How very rude.

MonkeysTypewriter Tue 14-May-13 21:45:23

I don't think the ages (starting at 33) make that particularly exceptional. Also, brothers or sisters? Men in that age group have plenty of time.

My sister and cousins (all girls) and I were a pretty unproductive lot - aged between 35 and 41 only 2 of the 8 had any children, whereas our parents all had children before the age of 25. But then we had a late flurry (including one first child born to a 43-year-old). There are still 3 who are childless though and will remain so, all for very different reasons.

So no I might notice but not enough to be bothered to remark on it, and I would not assume there was a common reason.

SunMoonStarship Tue 14-May-13 21:49:04

I wouldn't say a thing, but would privately assume that there was something in your upbringing which had put you all off having children.

^^
This

Mimishimi Tue 14-May-13 21:49:36

It's not at all unusual these days. I would assume that they were unable to have kids, couldn't afford them or simply didn't want to have them. I wouldn't find it worth commenting on.

Ehhn Tue 14-May-13 22:01:04

OP, I reckon education has something to do with... (not in the same way as Lucy Worsely's being educated out of childrearing comment) - I'm finishing my doctorate aged 27, have yet to have a career, want to compete my horses to a decent level, need to earn money... I can't imagine having kids before I am 36/37, or I could even be like my mother, who had just one child at 42. Or maybe none at all. So I get where you/your siblings are coming from.

FossilMum Tue 14-May-13 22:02:49

33-40 is too young to assume that they'll stay childless forever! Nor can you tell, nor is anyone's business, whether or not it's completely by choice. It would be very presumptive and rude to comment.

DH is one of 4, and at the time when they were aged 32-37 none of them had any children. By the time they were 37-42, 3 of them had 2 each and the other had 1.

All are academics, and having kids in the 30s is common for this group.

Their parents were acrimoniously divorced, which did delay most of them marrying.

If your siblings and friends do not yet have children, you are less likely to realize exactly what you're missing.

Don't forget that each sib has a partner, who is also involved in the situation.

DH's youngest sib was the first to have kids, yet the least interested in spending time with them once they arrived.

We were the last, at 42, but for rather complex reasons. MIL assumed we didn't want kids, but that wasn't it at all -- but we weren't interested in telling everyone the gory details of my terror at having my 1st friend to have a baby (aged 24) almost dying of a haemmhorhage, my fear of passing on my brother's mental illness, me losing my job and our then main source of income aged 32, my breast lump scare, my miscarriage, and my ruptured ovarian cyst.

FossilMum Tue 14-May-13 22:07:23

Of course that should read MIL assumed I didn't want kids… hmm

treesntrees Tue 14-May-13 22:28:50

only one of my five children has children (1). Due mainly to circumstances. The one with a child always said he wouldn't bring a child into the world (devoted dad) and the others always wanted children but never found the right partner. The ones without children have degrees apart from one, the one with child dropped out of Uni but works in education. A dear friend has six children four have 2 or3 children one is a step and one is childless. Only one has a degree. This would be an interesting topic for a masters. By the way I was one of four, two of us being baby boomers. The baby boomer two have smaller families
.

williaminajetfighter Tue 14-May-13 22:50:51

I come from a large family of 5 and out of all of us only I have one DC. The rest are in their 40s without kids.

Some of this is down to the, ahem, lack of romantic notions about family. Strict upbringing that we all wanted to escape and as a result we're very geographically dispersed and not at all close. I don't know the phone numbers of my 2 brothers!

But some of it is down to the teachings of my father who insisted we try to get out of the small town we were living in, explore the world and make something of our lives. As he saw it the death knell was marrying your high school sweetheart and starting to procreate at 20, often meaning limiting life choices/options and the opportunity for adventure. So we all followed his advice I guess.

I suppose I would flip the question and ask 'aren't you a little wierded out by families whose kids have all prioritised having families?' Often right away and sometimes living 2 minutes between each other. Ugh.

I have always found the statement 'all i ever wanted to do in life is to have a family ' a bit odd. I'd like to hope that having a family isn't the ultimate achievement and that those without children aren't somehow lower on the cultural/moral totem pole.

garlicyoni Wed 15-May-13 00:14:20

Half of us have stayed childfree. I have been pregnant, but refused the medical treatment I'd have needed to carry full term. As far as I know, the others made a positive choice not to have children, although they are straight and married. This means their partners also chose childfree - one also comes from a large family, with no children between them. We're all aged 50-ish now, so the choices are made for life!

The proportion of women remaining childfree is going up. It's now one in five in the UK - your family and mine, OP, are well above average!

Scarletohello Wed 15-May-13 00:27:54

I am the youngest of 3 girls,we're now all in our 40s/50s now. None of us are married and none of us have children. I can't speak for my sisters but for me, I never wanted to end up like my mum, trapped in an unhappy marriage, staying with an ea man 'for the sake of the children'...

VelvetSpoon Wed 15-May-13 00:36:40

I wouldn't find it that unusual tbh, I can think of a family of 5 where only one (possibly 2 now) of the siblings have children, the opportunity simply didn't arise for the others.

A close friend is one of 3 (aged between 40-45) who are all childless. Her eldest sibling is not at all interested in children, the middle one and is now marrying a woman 10 years his junior (so possibly children will follow) and my friend was in a long relationship with a man who didn't want children, which is why she didn't have any. I don't think it's anything to do with their childhoods per se, more circumstance.

VelvetSpoon Wed 15-May-13 00:43:13

I think also there are more choices available, particularly to women, than there were a generation or 2 ago, and that plays a part.

A lot of families are shrinking. My grandmother had 6 children (but lost several more to miscarriages - considering all her children were born between 28 and 39 that was a lot of time spent pregnant), of those 6 children, none had more than 3 children themselves, and 2 didn't have any. In my generation, I have 2 children, as do 4 of my cousins. All the others are childless. My eldest cousin is the only one with adult DC, his 2 children are in their early 30s, and neither have any children of their own yet.

Rufus20 Wed 15-May-13 00:55:14

I don't see it as particularly odd - although it's probably the norm, there's an implicit assumption that having children is somehow desirable ... which I don't think is the case

raisah Wed 15-May-13 02:20:47

Yes I Know a group of 4 siblings e who has done this through a combination of issues such as infertility, homosexuality & not wanting kids.they are in their 70s now & do comment occasionally that their branch of the family will die out on their deaths.

CoolStoryBro Wed 15-May-13 02:27:12

I think I was 33 before any of my 3 siblings had kids. They all had them well into their 30s/early 40s. I had mine in my 20s though, so I was the unusual one in our family. So, no. I wouldn't find it strange. I would probably presume at least some of them were going to have kids at some point though, I guess.

Yes I would find this very unusual, but it would depend on how well I knew you before I commented on it. Although it wouldn't be in a disdainful way more surprise or intrigue.

I'm from a family of 'breeders', we all seem to be ridiculously fertile and of my seven siblings none of us reached 25 without having a child, similar could be said for my various cousins. There are a few within the family who haven't had children but this tends to be because they can't rather than they don't want them.

I don't know anyone (to my knowledge) over 40 who doesn't have children or step-children. I have met or known people but theres nobody in my life presently who fits this criteria.

If I'm being brutally honest, I would probably make the assumption you either had all had an unhappy childhood, came from an extremely cold and distant family or were brought up to be spoilt and thus quite selfish. I suppose as I don't really mix with childless people and I don't really understand them as I just can't see why you wouldn't want children, I'd most likely be rather perplexed by it all and think of your parents.

Obviously its an individual choice and I realise I shouldn't expect what makes me happy to do the same for others, however it is just os different form my experience and my family or friends that I struggle with it as a life choice.

NapaCab Wed 15-May-13 02:57:48

My family is like that: I have three siblings, all past 40, and I'm the only one with children. People do find it odd and often ask me if I'm an only child because I never talk about cousins for my DC or anything.

I find it a little sad, particularly for my DC, but more because my siblings are all single as well and have never really managed to fly the nest emotionally so that is the strange part for me, rather than people being childless by choice.

garlicyoni Wed 15-May-13 03:03:37

... I struggle with it as a life choice

One of my sibs & partner decided - very carefully - to have a lot of wonderful holidays instead of children. They have done, and continue to!

I wondered whether you would struggle less with the idea, when given a concrete example of a couple who made it, precisely, as a life choice?

They've had more than four holidays every year, often to far-flung destinations and always in comfort. They travel independently so they can put their ideal trip together. They're due to retire (early option) very soon, and will spend the first two years buzzing around the world while considering what to do next smile

HullMum Wed 15-May-13 03:36:16

it is unusual. But no, I would never comment on anyone's breeding choices! how rude is that? shock I would assume there were personal or medical reasons and certainly not see it as my business to pry

Unacceptable Wed 15-May-13 04:48:01

I suppose I might wonder a little bit Peevish

Not having a wildly happy upbringing, pursuing academia and not being particularly close would say to me that all four adults found the things some find within families elsewhere.

When I think of Siblings I think of fun and games, support found from them, battles with them (playful or otherwise) and some shared interests/experiences. I always wanted a child and hoped for more than one because I was fortunate enough to have siblings who became friends. Some people get on fine with their families but don't have a particular closeness that they then want to recreate as adults.

TBH I find your parents seemingly not in a rush to meet their Grandchild more comment worthy than you, your brother and sisters not having children. Have they given any indication as to why?

WafflyVersatile Wed 15-May-13 04:49:50

Until s few years ago none of us 4 siblings had kids. The youngest was 37. The shortest relationship 8 years. from a stable home. Now 3 siblings do have kids. I do think it was unusual but whatever.

Mrsrobertduvall Wed 15-May-13 07:03:38

Dh has eight siblings, aged between 57 and 40.....five of them do not have children. One has never had a relationship at all.

Dh said his childhood was not grim, but there was little attention paid to him especially, and he struggled to have an adult relationship with his parents, especially his mother. He is closer to PIL since she died.

I have 2 dcs, and would not be bothered if they chose not to have children. I know people who don't, simply because they didn't met the right person till their forties. I never particularly wanted children either...I didn't marry till 35.

MrsMook Wed 15-May-13 07:57:56

i'd have assumed between a lot of siblings that it was a lifestyle choice e.g. Low priority compared to universtity and career.

DH's family amuse me. He's one of 5. They all have two each. All have a boy first. The Brothers all have a second boy. The sisters all have a girl second. It makes me want to have a 3rd child so we don't conform to their neat little pattern!

Peevish Wed 15-May-13 10:37:30

Just catching up on the thread now.

TigOldBitties, gosh, that was -- honest! Fair enough, I asked for responses, but in return, I find your assumptions about childless/child free people perplexing. Do you really think people without children are more likely to be spoilt and selfish? I assure you that, having been childless for 39 years, I am as selfish/unselfish as I ever was before having DS! I had him because I wanted to, not as a selfless act of giving back to the universe or something. Lack of sleep and prioritising his welfare doesn't make me a better person, it just makes me a parent. Environmentally, not having a child would have been more unselfish. And again, perhaps because I was child free myself for so long, I have no difficulty whatsoever seeing why people choose not to reproduce-- surely it's not that mysterious? Do you really not know anyone without children or stepchildren? That strikes me as pretty unusual.

Unacceptable, parents have now booked flight after I blew up at them!

digerd Wed 15-May-13 11:02:55

My 2 neighbours are now in their 80s. Both lost DHs in their 40s and neither had DC nor married again.
One wanted DC but DH didn't, and she was an only DC and so was he.

The other had 4 DB and not one had DC. I found that unusual, which it is.

A friend was an only DC and she and her DH didn't want DC. He did have siblings.

PanickingIdiot Wed 15-May-13 12:41:15

I think the only unusual thing in this is for a 40-year old to have three siblings. I'm 35 and most of my peers are only children or have one sibling tops.

Joking aside: the age range you've given (33-40) means that most likely all four of them are still fertile, so all of them may choose to have children later on in life. Not to mention adopt, or have a partner who has children from a previous relationship etc. It's too early to tell whether they've made this decision consciously or if it just hasn't happened yet. Wait until they are in their fifties.

Jan49 Wed 15-May-13 13:19:18

Yes, like PanickingIdiot says, it's unusual for there to be 4 siblings in a family. In my family history you'd have to go back to the 1890s to find a couple producing 4+ children. In England, the average family has been closer to 2 children for many decades.

melika Thu 16-May-13 09:28:25

Out of us five kids, only one brother did not have kids.

I often wanted to ask why, but didn't. I'm still devastated, he died 2 years ago suddenly and i often think what a wonderful dad he would of been. He was also very handsome. He had plenty of women in his life. Was it choice or medical, I will never know.

MiaowTheCat Thu 16-May-13 10:00:22

Why on earth would I judge, assume, question or even bloody notice?! It's none of my business and I probably wouldn't even make the association between you being siblings and all being childless/free unless it was pointed out to me (I tend to be totally oblivious to a lot of stuff). It's none of my business why people do or don't have children, and unless they choose to discuss it with me, I don't make it my business.

And as for the usual offensive assumptions and stereotyping about those with no kids - give it a fucking rest. I'd rather someone who had different priorities acted on those priorities, rather than doing a bad job of slotting a child in where there isn't really a child-shaped space and screwing them up... plus, I went through years of not having kids for various reasons - I didn't undergo some massive personality change when I had them, I didn't suddenly become worthy and saintlike - I'm the same person I was, just with others to consider - having kids is NO one-way ticket to being a good person and choosing not to is no one-way ticket to not. It's really offensive to see these assumptions trotted out and it's fucking hurtful to those who can't have kids to constantly be lumped into that category - yes when we had no kids we spent money on holidays and gadgets - why the fuck wouldn't we? Had nowt else to spend it on really.

Never ceases to amaze me how the world loves to judge and pry into people's reproductive plans. Had one - why aren't you having a second? Had two - oh are you going to try again to collect both sexes? Had three - I guess you'll be done now? Had four - never heard of contraception? Had none - oh are you having problems? oh I guess some people just are too selfish to have kids?

OwlLady Thu 16-May-13 10:01:31

I don't think sibling between 33 and 40 without children is that odd these days is it?

digerd Thu 16-May-13 10:23:25

My friend who her and DH didn't want DC, was annoyed that other family members had said " But who is going to look after you when you are old?"
She said, " What a selfish reason for having children!"

Unacceptable Thu 16-May-13 11:32:04

Peevish
Glad to hear it, love it when things turn out good in the end. Hope you have a lovely visit when they arrive.

You planted a seed though after finding the original question a bit strange and having never wondered why some of the people I know haven't reproduced as yet, I then started thinking about the siblings I know who are childless. Would still never comment on it or ask them about their personal choices unless maybe it was a conversation they instigated.

SoftDay Thu 16-May-13 22:49:16

Interesting thread. I am one of four siblings, aged 31 to 40, none of whom is a parent. Two of my siblings, like me, have chosen not to have children, but the youngest, who is getting married next year, is very keen to do so. (The oldies will be thrilled!)

It is very interesting to me that some people might assume we had an unhappy childhood. On the contrary, although otherwise rather unremarkable, I would say a distinguishing collective characteristic of our lot is that we are an extremely close family who all enjoy a very close relationship with both parents. Indeed, I have observed that some - by no means all! - of the people most keen to have children are those with unhappy childhoods and distant relationships with siblings. I suppose there is an element for me of not feeling a "need" to create my own nuclear family as such, because my "original" family provides such great emotional sustenance. I can't speak for my siblings, however. BTW, three of us are married, with the youngest getting wed next year. As I said, interesting thread. smile

StarRose Thu 16-May-13 23:01:56

I'm the oldest of 6 siblings and so far there's only my dd. Any cousins are a long, long way off...

Interestingly my sisters and I all struggle with relationships whereas our brothers are in serious long term relationships.

Definitely something in our upbringing I think.

HollyBerryBush Thu 16-May-13 23:07:03

my post earlier:

I worked with a bloke who was No2 of 4, two brothers, two sisters, he died in a tragic accident in his late 30's, and his sister has finally got married in her 50's. TBH the vibe I got from all four of them was that they were all completely asexual. I don't know if it was their upbringing, very very monied people, privately educated abroad at boarding school from a young age. Maybe that had something to do with it.

The more I think about it - all 4 were highly academic - children, indeed partners, would have got in their way. All very high achievers.

Sad really, they never had the opportunity to pass their intellect on.

But as I said, all gave the vibe of being asexual, I was surprised when one got married in her 50's.

Disappearing Thu 16-May-13 23:14:09

I would never comment on something like this, I think it's generally a bit rude to comment on other peoples childbearing, so would leave well alone.

As for thinking about the common cause, I might well ponder this. I remember having a conversation with my brother once years ago, about exactly this. My paternal grandmother was one of ten children, yet my dad has only one cousin (who has no children), and he was an only child, that seemed to me long odds. Basically, of those ten siblings two generations ago, only my brother and I existed as descendants.

louisianablue2000 Thu 16-May-13 23:49:15

I'm one of four and until seven years ago when DB2 had his first my parents had no grandchildren. Mum complained loudly about it! At the time we ranged in age from 26 to 35. So not quite as old as the OP but not far off. There are now 6 in the next generation.

I'm shocked at some of the assumptions people are coming out with, we had a fantastic childhood (idyllic countryside upbringing) and are very close, although separated by miles now. We are highly educated (6 ancient university degrees between us), two of us are single and DB had his first child at the same age Dad was when I was born so maybe there is just a family pattern of having kids later than normal (both my grandmothers and I had children in our late thirties and forties).

From my viewpoint I personally didn't want kids for a long time (and still think that is a very logical choice). Having kids late has worked for us because we live a long way from family but can afford to pay people to fill the 'granny gap' since both our careers are very established. We also can afford to have three, having come from a larger family I was of the view that choosing to have none was fine but if you had kids you needed to have at least three because it is so fab being one of a bigger family, onlies and pairs just don't cut it.

I also think there's an element of doing what everyone around you does, like groups of friends all having kids around the same time. It has been lovely watching our kids play with their cousins, something that wouldn't have been the same if my kids were all older than DBs. While none of us had kids it was easy to pretend we were still teenagers!

I would regard any conversation or query about DC or number thereof to be rude and impertinent, unless it was a very close friend.

I'm now 48, very happily married with no DC and my sibling, 45 yr old DB has none either, though he is now in a long term relationship with a woman who has two teenagers from a previous relationship.

Mumsyblouse Thu 16-May-13 23:59:56

There can be some demographic/class thing going on as well- where I was brought up, it would have been highly unusual for three or four siblings to remain childfree, and people would have openly commented on it, because it was a council estate where people had children young, and quite a few of them. Lots of professional women (and men) choose not to have children, and for a few, time runs out a bit- I have friends who might have been parents had they met earlier in life, but it's just the way it is.

I think over 40% of women (not sure about men?) with professional careers are child-free and so the chances of some of these women being siblings with similar ambitions is probably not as unlikely as it seems.

garlicgrump Fri 17-May-13 00:22:20

You're touching on a very strong feminist point there, Mumsy. A woman can hope for the same career opportunities as a man with a wife - if she doesn't have children.

MoominsYonisAreScary Fri 17-May-13 06:59:44

My 3 cousins are all childless and all in their mid to late 40s. I have no idea why and I've never asked, I think that would be rude. They don't have professional careers so it's not for that reason. It could be for medical reasons but I don't think so.

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